“Let us go and spend some time with Sister Vasundhara” saying thus, we all headed towards her house which was in the same vicinity. By the time we arrived at her place, she was sitting peacefully on a wooden couch. She recognized Charan instantly, but vaguely remembered me, as I had only visited her a couple of times before. Upon seeing us, she affectionately welcomed us, saying “Come on in, sons”.
Charan straightaway went in and sat near her feet. We sat a little farther away. She requested us to be seated on the chairs but out of respect, we all sat on the floor. After exchanging greetings, the actual discussion started.
“Brother, please ask your question?” said Charan.
I inquired, “Sister, you used to move freely with Mother and have also served her for a long time. Have you ever heard Her talk about other worlds and rebirths? Charan thinks she might not have”.
She looked at us contemplatively and began to speak.
Mother never gave a generalized answer to everyone. She used to answer each person differently, based on the individual and his state of mind. Same question might not arise in two different people. Likewise, Mother’s answers to each were also unique. She would occasionally talk about rebirths, but never elaborated much on the subject. Many a time, it appeared as if she were in a different world. Her face changed and she seemed oblivious of the surroundings. During those times, we too would not disturb her, but just sat quietly at a distance. She appeared to be talking to some invisible person in a peculiar language, at times, audibly and at times in a low murmur, which we couldn't comprehend.
But, when in a normal conscious state, she would say “Why worry about rebirths, they are like waves in the ocean. One wave leads to another and there is no end to it. They keep coming one after the other. We do not remember what we ate yesterday, why bother about past births?”.
When Mother was in a trance, we were apprehensive to approach her. She spoke incoherently and many unusual things used to happen. Let me tell you an incident that I remember the most. It was June 14, 1962. She started fetching water from the well and pouring on herself. We don't know for how long she had been doing that, but she later asked us to fetch water and pour. This continued for a long while. Afterwards she asked us if there was anything to eat. Mother never asked for food nor did we see her eat a meal until then. Even when we cooked and brought her something, she partook a little and distributed the rest to everyone as prasad. However, once in a while, she had coffee. So on that day, Mother asking for food seemed very unusual. Upon searching, we only found sixteen mangoes in the house. We told her the same and she asked us to cut the fruit and serve her. Then she ate all of them, without offering it to anyone. We heard her mutter something along the lines of “Shyamala is hungry in the forest. Otherwise, who will serve food to those who are doing penance in the forest?”. Similarly, she used to say a few things that we could not understand right away, but would later come to know that somebody was starving elsewhere and that, she ate here, in order to satisfy their hunger. We have read such instances in the lives of many saints. We have also read about Lord Sri Krishna partaking the last morsel of rice remaining in the pot, to satiate the hunger of Sage Durvasa and his disciples, who had come for a meal. But on that day, we ourselves witnessed Mother do so. Such incidents did indeed happen.
She discussed other worlds with some people, but not with all. And to a few others, she said “Why do you worry about them? Simply focus on what you are here for”. Likewise, Mother’s conversations varied from person to person.
A great many people came to her with numerous problems. She seemed to listen very intently to few and with few others, she seemed disinterested and preoccupied. They doubted if she was listening to them at all. But by the time they returned home, their problem would be resolved. That way, without saying a word she provided everything. At times, she spoke and at times she was silent. Her ways were beyond our imagination. She used to say “I am not a talking mother but a giving Mother”. There was no need for words, her mere will was enough to grant anything.
There was a retired DSP named Chaganti Venkat Rao who one day, expressed to Mother, his desire to act in movies. She was silent as though she had not paid attention to it. But after a few days, Director Balachandar called and gave him a role in the movie Kokilamma. This is how things happened around her.
Mother put the life’s greatest truths in the simplest of words. Her teachings were also such. For instance, you know Mother’s famous saying, “Be content with what you have and share with others lovingly”. In present times, tell me who is content with what they have? Everyone is greedy. And then, who serves others with love? We either serve unwillingly or out of some expectation. It is not right to do so. We are unable to eat even our meal peacefully. We are either lost in thoughts that somebody is earning more or unhappy that we lack something. These might seem like simple teachings, but if one can truly practice them, there is nothing more to be done in life. Mother’s simple teachings carried such profound meaning.
Mother was very particular about cleanliness. She stressed that we keep everything utterly clean and organised. She stood right behind me, closely observing and instructing me on how to clean everything. She did not like any task left halfway or incomplete. She insisted that things be put back in their place after use. Even a broom had to be in its own place.
As Sister Vasundhara was speaking, I remembered the life of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. She too was like that. Once a disciple threw the broom to a corner after sweeping. Mother noticed that and chided her “Learn to respect everything. You have to give every object its due value. What do you lose by putting it back gently in its place, rather than throwing it? This is not how a task needs to be done”.
Once a sanyasi from Belur Math came to visit Mother. As he was sitting and talking to her, a lady disciple walked past him, carelessly allowing the loose end of her saree to brush against Swamiji. For that, Mother scolded the lady disciple saying “They have renounced everything in the world, is this the way to conduct oneself around them? Be mindful while you walk. With this negligence of yours, you might be inviting trouble for yourself”. Living with saints is easier said than done. They observe every minute detail and expect perfection in every task.
Sister Vasundhara continued “Mother knew the troubles of many people. Even if they were far away, she could feel their anguish. That is why, even when her health was not good, she went to Arunachalam to pay a visit to Chalam and Sauris. James was right there. Mother looked into his eyes for a couple of moments. That was it. By the time we returned from our trip, we found James was already in Jillellamudi. Once here, he never left.”
No one knows how many miracles or wonders Mother did. As a little kid, when she was strolling on the beach, near Bapatla, a fisherman wanted to steal her jewellery and he pushed her into the ocean. But in a little bit he was the one crying for help sinking into the ocean and Mother was on the shore. Some people rescued him and got him out. Saying, “Is this all for this jewellery? Had you asked, I would have given it to you on my own accord”, she handed him all the jewellery. She exhibited such divinity at that tender age.
Once few hooligans ransacked the Ashram and stole everything. The police hunted them down and brought them to Mother. She gave them food, new clothes to wear and set them free. She said that they too were her children. Her love knew no bounds.
When Mother was young, she visited Ramana Ashram with her father and met Ramana Maharshi. Upon seeing her, Maharshi said ‘Mathrushree is here’. Years later, when Mother went to visit Chalam in Ramana Ashram, she proceeded to Kanchi from there. We were also a part of that group. When Kanchi Paramacharya saw Mother, he saluted her and stood without any movement for 20 mins. She left the place saying “As long as we are here, he will remain like that. Let's make a move”. Such saints were able to recognize Mother, but it was beyond our capacity to understand her stature.
Once I was advised to go through surgery for my worn out knees. Surgery was not that common back then. Unable to walk, I was confined to bed for months. Mother was in Madanapalli at that time. I said that I did not want to go for surgery without Mother. Hence, they took me to Madanapalli. Back in those days, people were more caring and warm-hearted. If one was in need, everyone came forward to support them. True affections are a thing of the past. If someone passes away, now they simply say, ‘Oh! They are no more’, and they either forget the next day or write a homage. That's about it.
So here I went to Madanapalli. Mother saw me but paid no attention to my condition. She asked me to stay with her. The next day while going to another village, she urged me to stand up and walk. I said I simply cannot do it. It was excruciatingly painful when I tried to stand. But Mother was relentless. So I stood up and came limping to the car and got in. With every step I took, the pain was so agonizing that it felt as if I were about to die. She made me walk along with her for that entire day. By evening, I was able to walk normally. After that, when we got the tests done, knees looked normal. This indeed happened with me. Doctors who tested me earlier were surprised.
In another instance, a devotee of Mother was diagnosed with cancer, for which surgery was recommended. When he said he wanted to visit Mother once, the doctor mocked at him saying what can such Mothers and Babas do. Disregarding the doctor’s words, he went ahead and visited Mother. The devotee kept talking, but Mother, not paying any attention to what he was saying and as though she knew what was going on, stroked the area where it was painful for him. Later, when he went back and got the tests done, there was no trace of cancer. The doctor was bewildered and came running to Jillellamudi. Many such things happened.
Why mention these incidents, we once thought Mother herself had cancer. She had some lump like growth inside and when tested, reports showed malignant. Unable to bear this news, brother Dinakar and brother Ramakrishna went missing until evening. Mother knew everything, but she behaved otherwise. She called me and asked, “Where are they, what happened?”, to which I replied, “How would I know, Mother”. She continued “How is it that you do not know? Tell me”. I answered, “Mother, I do not know where they are?” By evening they came back and with grief filled voices, informed Mother about it. After listening to everything, she said, “Oh, is that the reason why you are behaving this way? Why would I have such a disease? I won't. Have it tested again”. After retesting, the reports showed that she did not have any cancer. Countless incidents like these took place.
We can never know Mother’s inner thoughts. Sometimes she would say that other worlds and rebirths existed and sometimes she would skip those questions. It all depended upon the spiritual state and yearning of the person asking.
Saying so, Sister ended the conversation.
To be continued…
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Annapoorna B, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on August 3, 2012. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.